Pats and Rovers remain unbeaten at the top – LOI Lowdown

Once again the League of Ireland has provided plenty of entertainment over the past week. Dundalk took the plunge last week sacking several of their managerial team and Derry City followed suit giving Declan Devine his marching orders with Ruaidhrí Higgins taking over leaving his role with the Irish national team to do so. It was a rocky week in Waterford too with plenty of speculation surrounding manager Kevin Sheedy he dismissed rumours of his departure and guided the side to victory.

A reminder that there were two sets of fixtures in the Premier Division last week so brace yourself for a long read!

Premier Division

Drogheda United 0-1 Shamrock Rovers

Danny Mandriou was the late, late hero for Shamrock Rovers as his 95th-minute goal beat Drogheda United.

It looked as if Rovers would relinquish top spot until Mandriou’s last-gasp intervention. He headed in Dylan Watts’ free kick at the back post to break United hearts after they withstood considerable pressure in the late stages of the game.

The impressive home side – who pressed with intent and aggression throughout – switched off at the very last moment, leaving substitute Mandriou to head in.

Another sub Graham Burke had gone the closest before the winner, but his shot was well saved by Drogheda stopper Colin McCabe. Rovers ability to conjure important late goals this term hadn’t deserted them in the end.

St. Patrick’s Athletic 0-1 Waterford FC

Assistant Mike Newell was sent off for the second time as Waterford lost again, with high-flying St Patrick’s Athletic continuing an impressive start to the term.

Newell saw red over a bizarre argument about the colour of the tape on the Pat’s players’ socks, an early goal from teenager Darragh Burns deciding a game that entertained, sometimes because of the football.

The hosts, facing the second of three games in a busy week, made six changes, with some of their younger players in Alfie Lewis, Ben McCormack and Burns impressing. Waterford, meanwhile, were still without Brian Murphy, the veteran goalkeeper who has clashed with management and again did not make their squad.

Saints took the lead within two minutes. Chris Forrester broke down the right and played it to 18-year-old Burns, who turned onto his left and his shot was deflected in. Ronan Coughlan probably should have made it two on nine minutes.

Ian Bermingham found Shane Griffin who squared for Coughlan; after Paul Martin blocked his snap attempt, Griffin blazed over. Then Forrester combined with Coughlan but the former’s shot lacked power. Forrester was unusually sloppy in the first half.

To the credit of the struggling visitors, they exerted some influence as the half progressed, without creating anything. Adam O’Reilly blasted straight at Vite Jaros before curling one that the impressive Liverpool loanee dealt with easily.

Longford Town 0-0 Finn Harps 

Despite a dominant display, Finn Harps had to settle for a point at Bishopsgate.

Though they defended well, Longford will be disappointed that they failed to create little at the other end of the pitch, if the result did stem the flow of three straight defeats for the midlanders.

While Harps shaded a scrappy opening, it was Longford who threatened first, Sam Verdon shooting wide across goal with an angled drive 10 minutes in.

Ollie Horgan’s side really should have been ahead on the half hour.

Sean Boyd showed good touch to work a one-two with Barry McNamee to bring a fine parry save from Michael Kelly. Tony McNamee blazed the rebound high over the top with the goal at his mercy.

Harps remained on the front foot into the second half, Ethan Boyle getting forward to sting the hands of Kelly within two minutes after Tony McNamee rolled the ball into his path on the overlap.

Sadly that failed to spark the game to life as the dour contest continued to struggle to produce any real quality.

Derry City 1-1 Dundalk

Derry City will feel the happier after this entertaining draw against an out-of-sorts Dundalk, at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

The Oriel Park men, who led thanks to David McMillan’s 54th-minute strike, but a goalkeeping mistake by Alessio Abibi gifted Cameron McJannet’s his second goal of the campaign for the Candystripes.

The Lilywhites had great chances in the closing stages but the combination of some top goalkeeping by Nathan Gartside and the woodwork, meant Derry deservedly earned a point.

Dundalk missed a golden chance to take a 15th-minute lead as Michael Duffy’s left wing cross from the bye-line found Patrick McEleney, but the former Brandywell favourite blasted wide from 10 yards.

Derry had half a chance minutes later when Ciaron Harkin’s centre found James Akintunude, but the Londoner, who got up well, failed to test Dundalk keeper Alessio Abibi, and headed over the bar.

The deadlock was broken on 54 minutes as a sublime first touch by McEleney gave him the time and space to feed Duffy down the left and his first time cross was turned home at the near post by an in-rushing McMillan.

Moments later a misplaced pass by Cameron McJannet only found Sam Stanton, but after raising clear the midfielder’s left footed strike was well kept out by a diving Nathan Gartside.Derry levelled things six minutes later when McJannet was on hand from close range to turn home the loose ball, after Abibi’s poor punch fell had fallen perfectly for the centre-back.

Bohemians 1-3 Sligo Rovers

Sligo Rovers maintained their unbeaten start to the season as they saw out a thrilling 3-1 away win against Bohemians last Tuesday evening.

A series of incredible goals from Jordan Gibson, Mark Byrne and David Cawley were enough to cancel out Liam Burt’s goal of the season contender, and allow Sligo to return west with another valuable three points.

Both sides should have had a goal apiece within the opening three minutes following a series of calamitous errors at the back.

Initially, Georgie Kelly found himself one-on-one after intercepting Garry Buckley’s clumsy back pass but the striker’s eventual effort was gently struck at Ed McGinty in the visitors’ net.

With a little more composure on show, Sligo would have been 1-0 down, however, just moments later they were nearly in the lead.

This time, it was Bohs’ usually reliable goalkeeper James Talbot who made the mistake.

The former Ireland youth international surged to the edge of his box to clear the danger of a long ball but completely failed to make a connection with his kick.

Romeo Parkes ran into possession, but Talbot eventually recovered well to smother the ball when Parkes passed to Johnny Kenny at the back post.

With the game showing no signs of slowing down, Sligo finally opened the scoring with an incredible team goal on the half-hour mark. Gibson finished the move with a wonderfully hit volley but it was Parkes’ ingenuity that crafted the opportunity.

The former Jamaican international skilfully flicked the ball over the head of Ciaran Kelly on the half-way line before finishing the move by delivering a perfect cross for Gibson to strike home at the back post.

As Bohs wrestled to get back into the first-half, it was 19-year-old Jack Moylan who shined brightest, beating his man and whipping in crosses from the right wing on a couple of occasions. Kelly, however, couldn’t find himself in the right position to finish off either delivery.

The second-half was just a minute old when Liam Burt equalised with a rocket of a shot from 25 yards out.

Just minutes later, Kelly almost had the home side in front from a corner four, but his header flew just wide of the post.

Sligo’s substitutes worked to regenerate the visitors with both Byrne and Cawley coming off the bench to find the scoresheet.

With 15 minutes to go, Greg Bolger, the Bit O’ Reds veteran captain, sent a looping ball towards the back of the box which Byrne obligingly controlled and calmly lifted over Talbot into the Bohs net.

Long’s troops pushed forward for an equaliser but their hopes were dashed on the 87th minute when, on the edge of the box, Cawley smashed a wonderful strike into the roof of Talbot’s net.

Finn Harps 0-2 St. Patrick’s Athletic 

Goals from Billy King and Mattie Smith consolidated St Patrick’s Athletic’s top spot in the Airtricity League Premier Division.

Finn Harps weren’t their usual selves and although fatigue may have played a part, that shouldn’t detract from the quality shown by Stephen O’Donnell’s team, who have yet to taste defeat this season.

O’Donnell and his team went down 3-2 at Finn Park on this last visit last October.

Both goals were splendidly taken. King, on the half-hour, picked up possession from Ronan Coughlan and sidestepped three Harps players in close proximity, before smashing past Mark Anthony McGinley from 18 yards for the opening goal.

Dave Webster and then substitute Sean Boyd tested Vitezslav Jaros early in the second half before Smith headed home a second for St Patrick’s Athletic on 61 minutes when Coughlan dinked back a cross from the byline.

Shamrock Rovers 2-1 Bohemians

A controversial penalty winner from Graham Burke infuriated Bohemians at Tallaght Stadium as Shamrock Rovers were somewhat fortuitous to snatch all three points in a cracking Dublin derby.

A fifth successive win over their arch rivals stretches the champions unbeaten league run to 29 games going back to 2019, though they do surrender top spot in the Premier Division table to St Patrick’s Athletic on goal difference.

A fourth defeat of the season was tough for Bohemians to stomach as they deserved more having matched Rovers every inch of the way in an enthralling clash of Dublin’s big two.

Despite a rejig at the back, Bohemians were exposed as early as three minutes before Rovers’ dominant start brought them a fifth minute lead.

James Talbot initially saved well with his feet from Burke after Aaron Greene and Danny Mandroiu combined to carve Bohemians open down the right.

Bohemians were at sixes and sevens at the back again two minutes later.

Dylan Watts found Liam Scales in far too much space on the left to cross. And though Greene’s flick rebounded off a post, Watts was there to volley home his second goal of the season.

Despite their bright start, Rovers should have been punished on 13 minutes as a glorious chance to equalise was missed.

The ball broke kindly to allow Keith Ward scamper clear on the Bohemians right. His low cross ran past Georgie Kelly in the middle to Liam Burt who rashly curled his shot wide.

That was soon forgotten, though, as Bohemians did level with a terrific goal six minutes later.

Burt’s back-heel found Ali Coote on the left. He spun to shake off the presence of Sean Hoare a little too easily to cross for Ross Tierney to head to the net at the back post.

Bohemians were left fuming as the game turned in Rovers favour on 74 minutes.

Central defender James Finnerty was harshly adjudged to have pushed Mandroiu over as they raced into the area.

Referee Paul McLaughlin pointed to the spot before further incensing the visitors by showing Finnerty a straight red card.

Burke’s far from perfect penalty had enough in it to beat Talbot despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to the ball.

Dundalk 2-1 Drogheda United

Dundalk finally claimed their first Premier Division victory of the season at the expense of their Co Louth rivals Drogheda Utd at Oriel Park.

Goals in either half from David McMillan and Han Jeong-woo ensured a run of 188 days without a league win came to an end.

Chris Lyons did pull a goal back for Drogheda right at the death but it wasn’t enough to deny the home side their first three points of the campaign.

This result will be a welcome tonic for those around Oriel Park after a difficult week which saw both team manager Shane Keegan and coach Filippo Giovagnoli depart the club.

Interim manager Jim Magilton has now stopped the rot to a certain extent but will know his side must be more clinical in future games to put sides away when on top.

It was the visitors who had the first attempt of the game with number 17 Ronan Murray pulling a shot wide of Peter Cherrie’s goal after as many seconds.

The first big chance fell the home side’s way on five minutes when Raivis Jurkovskis picked out McMillan at the back post but the striker could only nod wide.

There was a brief scare for the Lilywhites on 11 minutes after a mistake at the back but club captain Chris Shields did well to get back to block Chris Lyons’ effort.

Dundalk then hit the front on 24 minutes with a superb goal. Full debutant Wilfried Zahibo switched the play to release Jurkovskis on the left. The Latvian international then beat James Brown to cross for McMillan to steal in ahead of Dane Massey to head to the bottom right hand corner.

The game was then put beyond doubt on 71 minutes when Han became the first South Korean to score in the league since Jin Gu Kim scored against Dundalk for Galway Utd in a 2-2 draw in September 2011 when he turned in from McMillan’s left wing cross.

There was then a scare at the other end for Drogheda with five minutes to go when substitute Ryan O’Kane charged down McCabe’s attempted clearance but the bounce of the ball denied him a chance to shoot before the Boynesiders got players back to see off the danger.

McMillan then should have added his second moments later when he was teed up by Duffy only to blaze over from eight yards out.

That miss could have proved crucial when Drogheda pulled a goal back on the 90 minute mark. James Brown slipped Lyons in and he slipped a low shot past Cherrie to the bottom left hand corner.

Despite four minutes of additional time, however, the visitors couldn’t find a breakthrough to rescue a point.

Waterford FC 1-0 Longford Town

Ten man Waterford held out against an attacking storm from Longford Town to win 1-0 at the RSC on Saturday evening.

A goal from Prince Mutswunguma in the eighth minute gave Kevin Sheedy’s team their second win of the season and moved the Blues out of the bottom two.

Though they attacked well, Longford will be frustrated that a loose pass from Joe Gorman was picked off by Prince Mutswunguma for the game’s only goal.

The forward darted in, stole the ball from the feet of the defender and ran clean through on goal. Michael Kelly tried to put the striker off but to no avail as Prince Mutswunguma slotted the ball passed the Longford goalkeeper.

The midlanders did not panic and returned to Daire Doyle’s gameplan. Gorman was happy to act as the catalyst for the side’s attacks and Rob Manley was the energetic striker who hunted down and chased every ball. In between was tight midfield pairing of Aaron Robinson and Aodh Dervin, who linked play in the centre of the pitch.

An in-swinging corner from Dervin could have equalised for Longford, but the ball skidded off of Manley’s head and went wide. It was a similar situation when Cameron Evans beat Aaron O’Driscoll at the end of a free kick. The Waterford defender put the ball behind for a corner, which then came to nothing for Longford.

The Blues nearly made it 2-0 when Tunmise Sobowale and Mutswunguma broke. Only Gorman stood between the Waterford duo but the defender remained cool, which allowed him to block the passing lanes and win back possession.

In the final moments of the first half, John Martin squared the ball to Mutswunguma who was facing goal. The striker fired first time and the ball curled inches wide.

An elbow from Ferguson led to referee Neil Doyle producing a red card fifteen minutes into the second half. A free-kick was given to Longford, and out of this, Gorman found the net, but was flagged offside.

Longford threw everything in search of an equaliser. Gorman, who jumped highest at a corner, saw his header saved on the line by Kelly. Dylan Grimes tormented Waterford out wide, but his crosses invariably found blue jerseys.

The five minutes added time saw Longford pour themselves into the Waterford half, desperate for the equalising goal.

Sobowale was defiant at this stage of the game, as he stood firm to break down the Longford play and break.

Sligo Rovers 0-1 Derry City

Ruaidhri Higgins got his tenure as Derry City manager underway in ideal fashion as the Candystripes picked up their first win of the SSE Airtricity League season by beating Sligo Rovers 1-0 at the Showgrounds.

In a scrappy game, it was Will Patching’s spot-kick early in the second half which decided the game, Rovers’ first defeat of the year.

In what was an opening half with little to get excited about, it took all of 28 minutes for the tie to produce a moment of note.

Derry’s James Akintunde linking up with Patching who fired over from 25 yards.

17-year-old Sligo striker Johnny Kenny was involved shortly after. The teenager jinked his way past a City challenge on the end line, but his squared ball was dealt with by Nathan Gartside in the Derry nets before anyone could arrive to finish.

Liam Buckley’s charges struggled to create much against a robust Derry defence.

Kenny, Jordan Gibson, Greg Bolger and Romeo Parkes required some slick passes to find a way to the Derry penalty area five minutes from the break.

But what looked like a potential opening was quickly closed out as Parkes was eventually crowded out by an eager Derry defence.

Gibson’s steered an effort wide of goal before half-time, while the game had its first real talking point just five minutes into the second period.

Sligo centre-half John Mahon’s clumsy challenge on David Parkhouse just yards from goal, was punished by referee John McLoughlin who had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Patching coolly dispatching the penalty, registering the first goal under the new City regime.

The Connacht side introduced a number of attackers from the bench but were repelled again and again by Derry who hung on to pick up their first victory of the year.

This weekend’s fixtures:

Friday April 30th

  • St. Patrick’s Athletic v Longford Town
  • Drogheda United v Sligo Rovers
  • Bohemians v Derry City
  • Waterford FC V Dundalk
  • Finn Harps v Shamrock Rovers

League table:

First Division

Athlone Town 3-0 Wexford

Athlone Town stayed top of the table with a hard-earned defeat of Wexford.

Jamie Hollywood put them ahead on 18 minutes but they had to be patient to kill off the visitors.

James Doona finally gave them breathing space on 76 minutes before Shane Barnes wrapped it up two minutes from the end with an excellent finish.

Cabinteely 1-3 Shelbourne United

Shelbourne kept up the heat at the top of the table with a third win on the bounce.

Mikey O’Connor puts the visitors ahead in the 27th minute with a penalty after Shane Farrell was chopped down in the box.

Farrell made it 2-0 with a magnificent effort that dipped and swerved right into the top corner. Kevin O’Connor’s 68th-minute free-kick made the game safe, with Jem Campion netting a consolation seven minutes from time.

Treaty United 2-1 Cork City

Cork City fell to their fourth consecutive defeat in the SSE Airtricity League First Division as Treaty United ran out 2-1 winners in a feisty clash at the Markets Field on Friday evening.

The sides went in level at the break as Cian Coleman cancelled out Anto O’Donnell’s strike, but Matt Keane found a winner ten minutes from time to further deepen the City crisis.

Despite this being the first-ever meeting of the sides, there was real bite and it felt much like the Munster derby it was being billed as.

Treaty United are no strangers to disciplinary struggles having been reduced to ten men in three of their four SSE Airtricity First Division games to date – and City themselves were without Jack Walsh as he saw red against Shelbourne last week.

For all that the hosts’ focus has been on defensive structure in their first four games, they’ve balanced the lack of incisive attacking play with quality delivery into the box. And that was the case once again, as they opened the scoring against the run of play on the half-hour mark.

Marc Ludden’s left-footed corner found a towering Clyde O’Connell completely unmarked at the back post. The midfielder’s effort crashed against Mark McNulty’s crossbar, but the returning Anto O’Donnell was on-hand to tap in from less than a yard out.

But City weren’t long responding and found themselves deservedly level before the break courtesy of former Limerick midfielder Cian Coleman.

Dylan McGlade, who had been the real bright spark in the first half, dinked a clever cross from the left flank towards the edge of the six-yard box where Coleman glanced a header past Tadhg Ryan, who himself had a spell at Turners Cross.

Coleman was operating as O’Brien-Whitmarsh’s primary support and his late runs into the box, which were a huge feature of his 2018 campaign with Limerick, produced the goods once more at the Markets Field.

The sides each hit the crossbar in the opening 25 minutes of the second half and while the visitors did appear most likely, it was once again the hosts who’d take the lead against the run of play.

After some ping-pong inside the City box caused all sorts of confusion, United winger Matt Keane blasted home at the back stick to hand Treaty the lead with just over ten minutes remaining – handing the points to the still-unbeaten Limerick side on the night.

Galway United 2-2 UCD

Galway United had to come from behind twice to salvage a draw against UCD.

Evan Weir put the Students ahead four minutes into first-half injury time but Ruairi Keating cancelled that in the 47th minute from close range.

A Gary Boylan own goal restored UCD’s lead and it looked like that’s how it would stay until Padraic Cunningham popped up in the 87th minute to equalise.

Cobh Ramblers 1-1 Bray Wanderers

 

Cobh Ramblers and Bray Wanderers went into this clash as two lower-half of the table sides looking to move into the top-half of the table but by the end of the 90 minutes they were still stuck in the wrong end of the table.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw and this was a fair result given the ebb and flow of the match over the 90 minutes.

Cobh were quickest out of the blocks in the first 15 minutes without ever really troubling the Bray defence but from then on the Seagulls took over and started to boss the match.

Bray continued their first half dominance in the early period of the second half and their persistence finally paid off in the 59thminute.  While their intricate passing and movement was the main feature of their first half performance, Clifford, O’Farrell and Luca Lovic being the main instigators, it was a route one ball which actually led to the opening goal.

A back pass to Brain Maher led to the Bray ‘keeper clearing the ball the length of the pitch. It evaded Cobh’s centre backs and the livewire Brandon Kavanagh was on hand to volley the ball past Sean Barron.

Cobh’s captain and right back John Kavanagh had a storming game and he was key to they getting the equaliser in the 78thminute.

His forceful run up the right touchline led to a free kick which he took himself. The set piece was cleared for a throw in and Kavanagh, who by this stage had moved into the box, was fouled. Referee David Dunne had no hesitation in awarding the penalty.

Innnishannon native Charlie Lyons made no mistake with the spotkick scoring Cobh’s first goal from a penalty since 2019.

Both sides tried to force a second goal in the last 10 minutes but it was not to be and a draw was probably a fair refection of the proceedings over the 90 minutes.

This weekend’s fixtures

Friday April 30th 

  • Bray Wanderers v Cork City
  • Wexford FC v UCD
  • Athlone Town v Cabinteely
  • Shelbourne FC v Treaty United

Saturday May 1st 

  • Cobh Ramblers v Galway United

League table:

 

Treaty United continue to impress in their inaugural season in the First Division while Athlone Town continue to look like a force to be reckoned with. The season is heating up so be sure to check back next week for the latest round of results

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